In light of Europe’s prolonged state of crisis, this book reassesses the challenges and prospects of the European integration process. Scholars from diverse disciplines reflect on various types of integration by analyzing political, economic and sociological variables, while also taking legal and cultural constraints into account. Readers will learn about the dilemmas and challenges of the European transformation process as well as political reforms to overcome these challenges.
Luisa Antoniolli is professor at the University of Trento, Faculty of Law
Luigi Bonatti is professor at the University of Trento, Department of Economics and Management
Carlo Ruzza is professor at the University of Trento, Department of Sociology and Social research
From Introduction (pp. 1-2)
1. The Current Crisis of the European Union and the Advantages of an Interdisciplinary Analysis: An Introduction
The title of this volume—Highs and Lows of European Integration— focuses on what many observers have described as a rollercoaster effect, to describe the long, sinuous process that has changed the geopolitical character of Europe over the last 60 years, as it emerged from the second world war. A frequent interpretation of this process is one of initial important achievements, but successive protracted uncertainties, unreached goals and failed ambitions. It is often argued that the process of European construction has guaranteed peace and prosperity for decades, but also that it has been marred by a failed attempt to reach a sufficient level of political legitimacy to be able to compete with the much more solid, longlasting, and resourceful structure of a (federal) Nation-State. Thus, despite the literature that sometimes heralds the increasing weakness of States in an age of globalization, they remain the main source of identity for most citizens, within the European Union as well. This happens as States are also seen to carve out new guiding roles in the economic domain and in several other policy areas. However, this reading often fails to take sufficiently into account the multifarious factors, the complexity, and the uneven aspects of the process of European integration and, therefore, the multiple arcas of progress that would have been unthinkable without the EU. They have taken place, of course, alongside multiple failures. The nature of the EU is complex, and only a multidisciplinary approach can help us to understand its evolving structure, functions, internal and external conflicts, and long-term trends. After 60 years of European integration, it is high time to pause and take stock. This is particularly necessary and important in light of recent challenges, such as the financial crisis and its aftermath, the populist upsurge in several Member States, and, more recently, Brexit. This volume attempts to do this.
Unlike other books assessing the European project over time, which are mainly written from the viewpoint of single disciplines—political science, history, law, economics, etc.—this book takes a multidisciplinary approach. In this way, we strive to grasp the broader multidimensional implications that this complex process entails. The process of European construction is in fact a multidimensional development, in which several variables interact in a context of political, legal, economic, sociological, and cultural constraints that no single discipline can fully describe and explain. Starting from this assumption, we focus on interpreting the direction of the current process of European construction. The contributions to this book are written by political scientists and political sociologists, economists and political economists, lawyers, and historians, who share a common understanding of these issues and have worked in a co-operative and coordinated manner, each applying the analytical tools and methods of his or her own discipline.
2. Current Challenges to the European Project
An overall assessment of the state of the European Union after more than 60 years is of course a monumental task. Consequently, of necessity we have focused on a few key aspects we believe to be particularly relevant which provide an overview of the state of the EU and of recent significant changes and future challenges. Before briefly introducing the structure and contents of the following chapters, it is useful to frame them in a more general context. First, it is important to note that 60 years after the Treaty of Rome, the European Union has grown into such a large and complex edifice of policies, institutions, and relations with other political entities, that any summary assessment of its state would be too cursory. Regulation of some policy areas has been extremely successful in terms of both effectiveness and legitimacy, whilst other areas have remained problematic and have witnessed limited progress. EU institutions have grown in terms of size and competences, but have generally failed to achieve the necessary legitimacy that would make them comparable to the Nation-State and its institutional make-up. The importance of the EU in international relations has certainly grown, often characterized as a normative model and a cohesive economic entity. However, notwithstanding the extensive disciplinary disputes on the limits of the authority of the Member States in the EU, its component units have clearly remained fundamental anchors of political power, initiative, and identities. It is generally agreed that the EU remains more than a trading bloc but less than a State and it is not going to become an integrated political entity in the foreseeable future. Of course, it has often been argued that it was never meant to develop into something else.
Courtesy by Springer
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